Medieval: Total War - Viking Invasion is set in between 793 CE and 1066 CE, a period of power struggles and poltical instability in the British Isles where the early British and Irish Kingdoms vied for power while fending off the Viking invaders from Scandanavia. The campaign itself launches with an allusion to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry 793 CE, which bound "foreboding omens" in the sky with the Viking sack of the isle of LIndisfarne.
The Viking Invasion campaign is selected from the default campaign selection screen of Medieval: Total War. Once selected, the player is prompted to select one of the following factions:
- The Irish
- The Picts
- The Saxons
- The Scots
- The Vikings
- The Welsh
With the exception of the Vikings, the factions above begin with a starting location on the British Isles. They play much as did the default factions for Medieval: Total War, though the building trees they utilize reflects the time period by providing access to more rudimentary buildings and technologies. Each faction also has access to a few special units.
The Viking faction has its mechanical roots in the Mongolian faction as depicted in Shogun: Total War - The Mongol Invasion. They begin play at the far eastern side of a map in Norway and Denmark, and have access to most of the same buildings as their British Isles counterparts. The major mechanical differences are as follows:
- The Vikings begin as a pagan faction, and build religious structures based upon their beliefs in the Norse gods. While the faction retains a pagan majority, Viking ships gain a movement bonus.
- Viking units are able to plunder buildings on the battlefield, generating revenue for their faction by doing so.
- The (unanimously Christian) British Isles factions can counter these strengths by converting the citizens within Viking territories to Christianity; once a majority of Viking lands are Christian, the Vikings permanently lose their bonuses to ship movement and thus their greatest strength in terms of mobility.
From a tactical standpoint, this forces players who elect to play as the Vikings to adopt an historically accurate strategy of fast raids, scorched earth policies, and returning to the seas afterwards. It also forces their hand to continue this strategy for as long as possible, for the Scandinavian provinces are not particularly profitable and a player who turtles there will run low on resources in short order.
Changes to Medieval
In addition to the new campaign, the Viking Invasion expansion also unlocked the Aragonese, Hungarian, and Sicilians for play in the vanilla campaigns for Medieval. Flaming ammunition was also added to the game in this expansion, in addition to the ability of units to sack buildings on the battlefield. So far as multiplayer went, the most important change was a bug fix which fixed a popular exploit, known as "swipe" within the Total War community, wherein a player could generate an infinitely increasing bonus to a cavalry charge.